When we were kids in school, daydreaming was usually the fastest way to get in trouble with the teacher. But several studies have shown that daydreaming — whether fantasizing about Caribbean vacations or winning an Academy Award or something else entirely — is actually good for your mental health.
Here are five of the reasons why daydreaming is actually good for you:
Scientists have found that daydreaming actually gives your brain a workout and exercises your “working memory.” This is the mental workspace that gives your brain the ability to handle multiple thoughts simultaneously. This means that you will be better able to perform multiple tasks since your brain has been strengthened to do more than one thing at a time.
For example, when you are doing something like washing dishes, riding your bike, taking a shower or riding the bus and you are making plans for the day, you are using your working memory. It is thought that the most intelligent people also have higher levels of working memory and are able to stay focused on a task at hand while daydreaming.
It Helps You to Relax
Daydreaming can have a similar effect to meditation — it can allow your brain to take a small break from the task at hand so that you can release your tension and anxiety. If you are having a stressful day at work, taking a few minutes to stare out the window and imagine yourself on a sandy tropical beach will help you to calm down and feel better.
Also, daydreaming can be used to control phobias and reduce anxiety. For example, if you are afraid of flying you can perform a positive visualization before the flight of flying, arriving at your destination and safely getting off the plane. Mentally rehearsing the steps will help you to feel better about the real events.
It Strengthens Your Relationship
When you are in love with someone, you tend to think about them when you are apart. This has a very positive effect on the relationship and brings you together. Happy couples daydream about greeting their partner joyfully, sharing good news and spending enjoyable time together. While unhappy couples tend to dwell on arguments and think about conflict, happy couples think positively about the future.
It Helps You to Create and Achieve Goals
When you are daydreaming, anything that you can think is possible and you can accomplish whatever you desire. This allows you to create a dream reality for yourself in your mind consisting of your ideal scenario. Focusing on a goal and ways in which to reach it help you to make your daydream reality come true. For example, perhaps you have been daydreaming about owning your own pub so that you could play pool and drink beer with your friends every night. Your daydream might inspire you to add a pool table, mini-fridge and stereo to your garage or basement and create your own hangout space.
Daydreaming also helps you to be the person you want to be. If you envision yourself in your daydreams as attractive, confident and capable, this subconscious affirmation will make you much more likely to succeed.
It Allows Complex Thought to Take Place
Have you ever noticed that you get your most brilliant ideas when you are doing something mundane, like taking a shower, washing the dishes or walking to work? This is because when you are occupied with an easy mental task your brain is busy processing very complicated thoughts and problems. This is the function of your working memory — the ability to let your mind wander while performing a task without compromising your ability to perform that task. Once you let this happen, you allow your brain to explore ideas and solutions to problems that you might not have thought about before when you were actively concentrating on the problem. Often you will find that the answer will come to you in an obvious way, even when it seemed that there was no answer before. Many of the greatest minds in history claim that they came up with their best ideas when they were simply daydreaming.
We criticize people for daydreaming all the time, implying that they are flaky or ditzy. However, daydreaming is actually a very high-level brain function that has many uses and benefits. These are just a few of the ways that daydreaming can actually be a good thing, so the next time you sit back and let your mind wander, don’t feel guilty about it.
About the Author: Carla Samuels is a freelance writer who often finds herself daydreaming about everything from donuts to Brad Pitt while in the middle of writing an article.
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